Two Sides to Every Story


May 20, 2017

Each and every one of us is a universe of its own. We know nothing more than our own experience in this world despite how deeply empathic we might be. These personal experiences influence our perceptions of life and others. We can’t prevent that. What I enjoy or hate or am afraid of is in part a product of the life I have lived until now. The same is true for every other person, and we carry that truth with us into our day-to-day interactions. It shapes our relationships with the world itself and the other people in it.

One person might sit beneath a tree listening to the birds, soaking in the sun, content and at peace with the knowledge that he is safe within and loved by this earth. This peace could be a product of his parents teaching him that he is an intricate part of the earth from the moment he made his appearance. Perhaps he has spent more time outside with his parents than he has spent inside. Perhaps they taught him to survive the elements and understand the forest. Perhaps they showed him how to find his way through it no matter where he started.

Another, however, might feel only fear and discomfort under that tree. His parents might have told him the horrors of the wilderness, how it would suck him in and makes him lose his way, how it is filled with things that would love nothing more than to kill him and use him for food. Perhaps his parents told him that if he wandered too far into its depths, it would take him from them, and he would be gone forever.

For each of these two men, a different truth lies beneath that tree, in that forest. No one truth is more accurate than the other. Mother nature is, after all, a beautiful but occasionally cruel mistress. Imagine, for a moment then, that each of these men is wearing a suit while sitting in a room on the 14th floor of an office building in downtown DC, and each man is required to make a decision about something based on their knowledge of, experience regarding, and feelings about the wilderness. Those two decisions would likely be vastly different because the two truths are vastly different.

This example is only one teeny, tiny speck of these two men’s realities. It does not take into account any other part of their lives and the resulting realities that those parts created. There are more than 7.3 billion different realities on this planet. None is more true than another. Compassion and empathy joins these truths and the lives that lead them.

Also, if you enjoyed this particular post, you might consider reading The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz which inspired it.

(P.S. I do understand that there are some absolute truths that are not influenced by one’s history. That is a post for another day…)